Beer of the Weekend #69: Cinder Cone Red

Pardon me while I have a junior high moment: “Huh huh huh. Sixty nine!”

My fridge is full of beer. That’s a good thing.

On Tuesday I called BevMo! and special ordered an 18-pack of PBR bottles. It came in today and I picked it up after work. I won’t be drinking any this weekend, though. I didn’t think it would come in until next week so I bought two PBR tall boys, one for tonight and another for tomorrow. So I have 18 bottles and two 24-ounce cans of PBR, and six bottles of this week’s brew. My roommate also has a 12-pack of Corona Light, which isn’t beer.

The beer this weekend is Cinder Cone Red brewed by Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon.

The makers of… Aw, shit — you get the idea. Hofbrau Maibock was once again unavailable and I’ve run out of May weekends. What should I do if I see it in stock? I’ve become such a connoisseur that I’m weary of trying anything out of season. It’s still technically spring for another three weeks, so I’ll be looking for Maibock through June. So with that declaration you won’t have to hear me bitch and bemoan the lack of seasonal selection at my one and only SoCal source of epicurean delight.

This week I was actually prepared, though; I knew I’d have no luck finding Maibock. I found CCR on the BevMo! website as I browsed the selection. Last week’s brew had me craving amber ale so I wanted to try Deschutes’ version. The name, however, made me uneasy: it sounded like a seasonal ale, reminding me of Christmas trees and the spicy hop bombs known as winter ale. It is, in fact, a seasonal ale — a spring ale. I’ve never had a spring ale before.

(Browsing the Deschutes website I see I missed out on another seasonal offering from the brewery: Buzzsaw Brown. I’ll have to wait until January to try it. Fuck.)

Serving type: Six 12-ounce bottles.

Appearance: It’s a rusty, copper red that is lightly effervescent. A finger of white head developed and dissipated to leave a spotted lacing and foamy ring.

Smell: Invigorating grapefruit citrus hit my nose first. It reminds me of a strawberry lemonade laced with grapefruit. There is also a spicy hoppiness.

Taste: Bitter citrus hops dominate. Grapefruit and lemon. The bitterness subsides as it warms to reveal caramel and toffee malt tones.

Drinkability: I was expecting something a little maltier, but this is still a decent amber.

Fun facts about Cinder Cone Red:

-Serving temperature: 45-50°F.

-Alcohol content: 5.4 percent ABV.

-Food pairings: BA suggests sharp cheeses like Blue and Cheddar and meat like beef, poultry, and fish. The Deschutes website recommends this pairing from their brewpub: “Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Brown Butter Cream Sauce and Fresh Sage.”

-Like Deschutes’ other brews, CCR is named after an Oregon landmark. From the Deschutes website (and also printed on the carrying case):

Located on the northern slope of Mt. Bachelor, the Cinder Cone was also known as “Red Hill” due to its reddish color that is revealed as the seasons change, the weather warms and the snow melts. It’s spring. Time to get outside.

-As a seasonal brew, CCR is only available from April to June.

-Each bottle of CCR is 180 calories. Just what a growing boy needs.

-The CCR webpage lists the beer’s IBU: 55. What’s IBU? It’s short for International Bitterness Units, a scale that measures the bitterness of beer based on the amount of hops used in the brewing process. I’ve heard of and seen IBU ratings before, but they are rarely available; I’m unsure how useful the measurement is. According to Wikipedia, the technical IBU limit is 100, though some brews exceed that supposed ceiling. CCR’s 55 is mid-range. US macro lagers have IBUs of five. It should be noted that the malts counterbalance hops, so a high IBU doesn’t necessarily mean it is excessively bitter; it could mean the malts had to be balanced aggressively.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B.

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